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Austin W. Manning

Associate

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F   610.667.7056

Austin is a litigation associate attorney and is admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar.

Austin graduated magna cum laude from Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law and received her Bachelor of Science in Economics from Penn State University. During law school, Austin served as a Staff Editor for the Temple Law Review. In her final year, she studied at the University of Lucerne in Lucerne, Switzerland where she received her Global Legal Studies Certificate with a focus on international economic law, human rights, and sustainability.

While in Law School, Austin served as a judicial intern to the Hon. Michael M. Baylson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and to the Hon. Arnold L. New of the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. Prior to joining the firm, Austin was a regulatory and litigation associate for a boutique environmental law firm in the Philadelphia area.

Experience

Current Cases

  •   CASE CAPTION Sjunde AP-Fonden, et al., v. General Electric Company, et al.
      COURT United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
      CASE NUMBER 1:17-cv-08457-JMF
      JUDGE Honorable Jesse M. Furman
      PLAINTIFF  Sjunde AP-Fonden and The Cleveland Bakers and Teamsters Pension Fund
      DEFENDANTS General Electric Company and Jeffrey S. Bornstein
      CLASS PERIOD March 2, 2015 through January 23, 2018, inclusive

    This securities fraud class action case arises out of alleged misrepresentations made by General Electric (“GE”) and its former Chief Financial Officer, Jeffrey S. Bornstein (together, “Defendants”), regarding the use of factoring to conceal cash flow problems that existed within GE Power between March 2, 2015, and January 24, 2018 (the “Class Period”).

    GE Power is the largest business in GE’s Industrials operating segment. The segment constructs and sells power plants, generators, and turbines, and also services such assets through long term service agreements (“LTSAs”). In the years leading up to the Class Period, as global demand for traditional power waned, so too did GE’s sales of gas turbines and its customer’s utilization of existing GE-serviced equipment.  These declines drove down GE Power’s earnings under its LTSAs associated with that equipment.  This was because GE could only collect cash from customers when certain utilization levels were achieved or upon some occurrence within the LTSA, such as significant service work.

    Plaintiffs allege that in an attempt to make up for these lost earnings, GE modified existing LTSAs to increase its profit margin and then utilized an accounting technique known as a “cumulative catch-up adjustment” to book immediate profits based on that higher margin.  In most instances, GE recorded those cumulative catch-up earnings on its income statement long before it could actually invoice customers and collect cash under those agreements. This contributed to a growing gap between GE’s recorded non-cash revenues (or “Contract Assets”) and its industrial cash flows from operating activities (“Industrial CFOA”).  

    In order to conceal this increasing disparity, Plaintiffs allege that GE increased its reliance on long-term receivables factoring (i.e., selling future receivables to GE Capital, GE’s financing arm, or third parties for immediate cash).  Through long-term factoring, GE pulled forward future cash flows, which it then reported as cash from operating activities (“CFOA”).  GE relied on long-term factoring to generate CFOA needed to reach publicly disclosed cash flow targets.  Thus, in stark contrast to the true state of affairs within GE Power—and in violation of Item 303 of Regulation S-K—GE’s Class Period financial statements did not disclose material facts regarding GE’s factoring practices, the true extent of the cash flow problems that GE was attempting to conceal through receivables factoring, or the risks associated with GE’s reliance on factoring. 

    Eventually, however, GE could no longer rely on this unsustainable practice to conceal its weak Industrial cash flows.  As the truth was gradually revealed to investors—in the form of, among other things, disclosures of poor Industrial cash flows and massive reductions in Industrial CFOA guidance—GE’s stock price plummeted, causing substantial harm to Plaintiffs and the Class.

    In January 2021, the Court sustained Plaintiffs’ claims based on allegations that GE failed to disclose material facts relating its practice of and reliance on factoring, in violation of Item 303, and affirmatively misled investors about the purpose of GE’s factoring practices. In April 2022, following the completion of fact discovery, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, certifying a Class of investors who purchased or otherwise acquired GE common stock between February 29, 2016 and January 23, 2018.  In that same order, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend their complaint to pursue claims based on an additional false statement made by Defendant Bornstein.  The Court had previously dismissed these claims but, upon reviewing Plaintiffs’ motion—based on evidence obtained through discovery—permitted the claim to proceed.

    Expert discovery is complete, and the parties are currently engaged in summary judgment motion practice.

    Read Fifth Amended Consolidated Class Action Complaint Here

    Read Opinion and Order Granting and Denying in Part Motion to Dismiss Here

    Read Order Granting Motion for Class Certification and for Leave to Amend Here

    Click Here to Read the Class Notice

  • CASE CAPTION            In re re Kraft Heinz Securities Litigation
    COURT United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
    CASE NUMBER 1:19-cv-01339
    JUDGE Honorable Robert M. Dow, Jr.
    PLAINTIFF Union Asset Management Holding AG, Sjunde Ap-Fonden, and Booker Enterprises Pty Ltd.
    DEFENDANTS The Kraft Heinz Company (“Kraft” or the “Company”), 3G Capital Partners, 3G Capital, Inc., 3G Global Food Holdings, L.P., 3G Global Food Holdings GP LP, 3G Capital Partners LP, 3G Capital Partners II LP, 3G Capital Partners Ltd., Bernardo Hees, Paulo Basilio, David Knopf, Alexandre Behring, George Zoghbi, and Rafael Oliveira
    CLASS PERIOD November 5, 2015 through August 7, 2019, inclusive

    This securities fraud class action case arises out Defendants’ misstatements regarding the Company’s financial position, including the carrying value of Kraft Heinz’s assets, the sustainability of the Company’s margins, and the success of recent cost-cutting strategies by Kraft Heinz.

    Kraft Heinz is one of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturer and produces well-known brands including Kraft, Heinz, Oscar Mayer, Jell-O, Maxwell House, and Velveeta. The Company was formed as the result of the 2015 merger between Kraft Foods Group, Inc. and H.J. Heinz Holding Corporation. That merger was orchestrated by the private equity firm 3G Capital (“3G”) and Berkshire Hathaway with the intention of wringing out excess costs from the legacy companies. 3G is particularly well-known for its strategy of buying mature companies with relatively slower growth and then cutting costs using “zero-based budgeting,” in which the budget for every expenditure begins at $0 with increases being justified during every period.

    Plaintiffs allege that Kraft misrepresented the carrying value of its assets, sustainability of its margins, and the success of the Company’s cost-cutting strategy in the wake of the 2015 merger. During the time that Kraft was making these misrepresentations and artificially inflating its stock price, Kraft’s private equity sponsor, 3G Capital, sold $1.2 billion worth of Kraft stock.

    On February 21, 2019, Kraft announced that it was forced to take a goodwill charge of $15.4 billion to write-down the value of the Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands—one of the largest goodwill impairment charges taken by any company since the financial crisis. In connection with the charge, Kraft also announced that it would cut its dividend by 36% and incur a $12.6 billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2018. That loss was driven not only by Kraft’s write-down, but also by plunging margins and lower pricing throughout Kraft’s core business. In response, analysts immediately criticized the Company for concealing and “push[ing] forward” the “bad news” and characterized the Company’s industry-leading margins as a “façade.”

    Heightening investor concerns, Kraft also revealed that it received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the same quarter it determined to take this write-down and was conducting an internal investigation relating to the Company’s side-agreements with vendors in its procurement division. Because of this subpoena and internal investigation, Kraft was also forced to take a separate $25 million charge relating to its accounting practices. Plaintiffs allege that because of the Company’s misrepresentations, the price of Kraft’s shares traded at artificially-inflated levels during the Class Period.

    On August 11, 2021, The Honorable Robert M. Dow, Jr. sustained Plaintiffs’ complaint. The case is now in discovery.  In March 2022, Plaintiffs moved for class certification.  

    Read Consolidated Amended Class Action Complaint Here

    Read Opinion and Order Denying Motion to Dismiss Here

    Read Motion for Class Certification Here

  • CASE CAPTION             Meyer, et al. v. Organogenesis Holdings Inc., Gary S. Gillheeney, Sr., and David C. Francisco
    COURT United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
    CASE NUMBER 1:21-cv-06845
    JUDGE Honorable Diane Gujarati
    PLAINTIFF Donald Martin Meyer, Manishkumar H. Bhagat, and Dustin L. Lineweber
    DEFENDANTS Organogenesis Holdings Inc. (“Organogenesis”), Gary S. Gillheeney, Sr., and David C. Francisco
    CLASS PERIOD August 10, 2020 through August 9, 2022

    This securities fraud class action case arises out of Defendants’ false or misleading statements and omissions of material fact regarding Organogenesis’s revenue growth between August 10, 2020 and August 9, 2022. Organogenesis primarily manufacturers and sells skin substitute products used in the treatment of chronic and acute wounds. During the Class Period, Plaintiffs allege that Organogenesis and Defendants Gillheeney and Francisco, the Company’s Chief Executive Office and Chief Financial Officer, respectively, engaged in a scheme to game the Medicare reimbursement system for two of Organogenesis’s skin substitute products—Affinity and PuraPly XT—to boost revenues and inflate the Company’s stock price. Defendants’ scheme centered on illegal marketing efforts that sought to induce physicians to purchase Affinity and PuraPly XT over competing products by marketing the difference, or “spread” between the amount Organogenesis charged physicians for these products and the amount physicians were reimbursed by certain Medicare Administrative Contractors (“MAC”). Plaintiffs further allege that Defendant Gillheeney personally profited from Defendants’ scheme by selling $16.8 million of Organogenesis common stock during the Class Period while the Company’s stock price was inflated as a result of Defendants’ misstatements and omissions.

    Defendants’ scheme gradually unraveled beginning on October 12, 2021, when a market analyst issued a report alleging that Organogenesis’s rapid growth was the result of Defendants’ undisclosed marketing of the Medicare reimbursement “spread” for Affinity and PuraPly XT–i.e., the difference between the price paid by a physician and the amount reimbursed by Medicare. This disclosure caused Organogenesis’s stock price to decline approximately 14%. Defendants, however, continued to mislead the market and reassure investors that Organogenesis’s revenue growth was genuine and sustainable.

    Defendants’ scheme was thwarted when Medicare set a national Average Selling Price (”ASP”) for Affinity that was significantly lower than the amount physicians were reimbursed by the MACs, leading to a rapid decline in Affinity sales. On August 9, 2022, Organogenesis announced its second quarter 2022 financial results, which disclosed that Affinity sales had declined substantially as a result of the recently established ASP. Following this revelation, Organogenesis’s stock price declined 20%.

    Following an intensive investigation by Kessler Topaz, which included interviews with former Organogenesis employees and obtaining Medicare reimbursement data through the Freedom of Information Act, on October 24, 2022, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint on behalf of a putative class of investors alleging that Defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. 

    Read Amended Class Action Complaint Here

  • CASE CAPTION  Charles Larry Crews, Jr., et al. v. Rivian Automotive Inc., et al.
    COURT United States District Court for the Central District of California Western Division
    CASE NUMBER 2:22-cv-0524
    JUDGE Honorable R. Gary Klausner
    PLAINTIFF Sjunde AP-Fonden, James Stephen Muhl
    DEFENDANTS Rivian Automotive, Inc. (“Rivian” or the “Company”), Robert J. Scaringe, Claire McDonough, Jeffrey R. Baker, Karen Boone, Sanford Schwartz, Rose Marcario, Peter Krawiec, Jay Flatley, Pamela Thomas-Graham, Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, Goldman Sachs & Co., LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Barclays Capital Inc., Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Allen & Company LLC, BofA Securities, Inc., Mizuho Securities USA LLC, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Nomura Securities International, Inc., Piper Sandler & Co., RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., Wedbush Securities Inc., Academy Securities, Inc., Blaylock Van, LLC, Cabrera Capital Markets LLC, C.L. King & Associates, Inc., Loop Capital Markets LLC, Samuel A. Ramirez & Co., Inc., Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC, and Tigress Financial Partners LLC.
    CLASS PERIOD November 10, 2021 through March 10, 2022, inclusive

    This securities fraud class action case arises out of Defendants’ representations and omissions made in connection with Rivian’s highly-anticipated initial public offering (“IPO”) on November 10, 2021. Specifically, the Company’s IPO offering documents failed to disclose material facts and risks to investors arising from the true cost of manufacturing the Company’s electric vehicles, the R1T and R1S, and the planned price increase that was necessary to ensure the Company’s long-term profitability. During the Class Period, Plaintiffs allege that certain defendants continued to mislead the market concerning the need for and timing of a price increase for the R1 vehicles. The truth concerning the state of affairs within the Company was gradually revealed to the public, first on March 1, 2022 through a significant price increase—and subsequent retraction on March 3, 2022—for existing and future preorders. And then on March 10, 2022, the full extent Rivian’s long-term financial prospects was disclosed in connection with its Fiscal Year 2022 guidance. As alleged, following these revelations, Rivian’s stock price fell precipitously, causing significant losses and damages to the Company’s investors.

    On July 22, 2022, Plaintiffs filed a Consolidated Class Action Complaint on behalf of a putative class of investors alleging that Rivian, and its CEO Robert J. Scaringe (“Scaringe”), CFO Claire McDonough (“McDonough”), and CAO Jeffrey R. Baker (“Baker”) violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act. Plaintiffs also allege violations of Section 11, Section 12(a)(2), and Section 15 of the Securities Act against Rivian, Scaringe, McDonough, Baker, Rivian Director Karen Boone, Rivian Director Sanford Schwartz, Rivian Director Rose Marcario, Rivian Director Peter Krawiec, Rivian Director Jay Flatley, Rivian Director Pamela Thomas-Graham, and the Rivian IPO Underwriters. On August 29, 2022, Defendants filed motions to dismiss. The parties are currently engaged in briefing on those motions.

    Read Consolidated Class Action Complaint Here